A spiritual celebration

The fourth annual Padre Pio Festival is set for Sept. 14-15 at St. Bede the Venerable Church

A special Mass: The Padre Pio Festival will include a Mass at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15, followed by a street procession with a statue of the saint. After, attendees can participate in a special healing service. Source: St. Bede the Venerable Church

For the fourth year, locals and visitors alike will convene on the grounds of St. Bede the Venerable Church, 1071 Holland Road, for a weekend of faith, food and fun.

On Sept. 14-15, the Holland-based church is once again hosting its annual Padre Pio Festival in honor of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, who was canonized as a saint by St. Pope John Paul II on June 16, 2002. Pio, whose life was marked by his piety and charity, is known as the patron saint of young people, and for his trademark phrase “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry.”

The festivities begin on Saturday, Sept. 14, at noon with a craft show, food vendors and musical entertainment. At 5:30 p.m., there will be a vigil Mass, which will include blessings with holy relics of Pio. On Saturday evening, there will be a free concert by the Jersey Tenors, a quartet that sings everything from opera to rock ‘n roll.

On Sunday, Sept. 15, there will be a Mass at 12:30 p.m. Father Pio Mandato, whose grandfather was personal friends with the father of Saint Padre Pio, is scheduled to be the preacher. This will be followed by a street procession with a statue of Pio. After, attendees can participate in a special healing service. A prayer service exclusively for teens and young adults will take place at approximately 3:30 p.m. Priests will also be hearing confessions.

Craft vendors, food vendors and entertainment will continue throughout the day. For the third consecutive year, the festival will present classics/disco/dance singer Jessica DiDonato and Sinatra tribute singer Stephen Ritrovato.

Kids can visit the children’s pavilion and play on inflatable amusements, while all guests can visit the cafeteria and enjoy specialty coffee and baked goods at the Pio Cafe. Religious items and a gift basket raffle will take place.

“Not only is it a spiritual, faith-filled weekend, but it’s also an opportunity for the community to come together and to celebrate around food, drink, entertainment and to make a whole weekend experience out of it,” said Monsignor John C. Marine, pastor of St. Bede.

According to Monsignor Marine, Pio, who died in 1968, is one of the most popular saints in the Catholic church for a number of reasons. Although he was a friar living in seclusion, people came to him from all over the world because he had the rare “stigmata” – the wounds of Jesus on the cross.

“They recognized him as a holy man. They recognized him as a man who himself endured a lot of physical sufferings, persecutions for his faith and also because he was known to be extraordinarily close to Jesus,” said Marine. “People knew that he was actually marked in many ways by God, so they sought him out for advice, for prayers, for healing. And also, he spent many hours each day in the confessional hearing confessions. He was a great minister of reconciliation and healing.”

In order to help continue the mission of Pio, excess proceeds from the festival will be donated to the children’s trauma center at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne.

“Padre Pio had a great love for young people, especially those who were sick and suffering. In the town of San Giovanni Rotondo, where the monastery was, which is up in the mountains, it was a very poor area. There was no modern medical care. He had a hospital built, a modern hospital that cared for people of all ages, but especially for children,” explained Marine. “We felt this was something that would be near and dear to his heart.” ••

Free parking is available on the grounds. Tour buses are welcome. For more information on the Padre Pio Festival, call the St. Bede Parish Office at 215-357-5720 or visit padrepiofestivalhollandpa.com. St. Bede Church is located at 1071 Holland Road, Holland. Since Holland is not recognized by GPS systems, use the city/town “Southampton” when setting the location.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com